Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Hoppin' John

By this point you are probably wishing you were at MY house for New Year's Day! My father-in-law (Skip) gave me a real silver penny for Christmas (from 1908) to place in my steaming pot of Hoppin' John to continue the tradition that the person whose bowl contains the penny receives the best luck for the New Year. Of course, I was initially upset that I had to give my old silver penny away, though Skip assured me it was expected for the penny to be returned to me by the recipient after the extra good luck had been passed to them. 
This year, nobody scooped out the silver penny, so I guess the good luck goes to ME! That's how it works, right? This dish was by far my favorite from our New Years menu, and I will be making it again and again. 

Hoppin' John
from Pioneer Woman

4 Tbsp butter
1 whole large onion, diced
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 whole green bell pepper, diced
2 stalks celery, diced
4 cups soaked black-eyed peas
5 cups low-sodium chicken broth
1 whole ham hock
Salt and pepper, to taste
Cayenne pepper, to taste
2 Tbsp white vinegar
White or brown rice, for serving 

Soak black-eyed peas in cool water for at least 6 hours, and rinse before using.
Heat butter in a large pot over medium-high heat. Add onion, garlic, green pepper, and celery and stir. Cook for 3 to 4 minutes. Stir in soaked beans, then add chicken broth, ham hock, salt, pepper, and cayenne pepper to taste. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and cover the pot for 30 minutes. 

After 30 minutes, check the liquid level; it it's too soupy, cook with the lid off for another 15 minutes or so. If it's too thick, splash in a little more broth.

Stir in vinegar, then taste for seasonings. Add more spice if needed. 

Serve over white or brown rice, making sure to get plenty of the cooking liquid spooned over the top.

Variations - add red bell pepper, canned diced tomatoes, diced jalapenos, or sliced bacon (instead of ham hocks). Stir in torn-up kale when 5 minutes cooking time remains. 

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